Homeschool Posts

Monday, November 9, 2009

Review: America’s Heritage-An Adventure in Liberty

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As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a copy of America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty from the American Heritage Education Foundation and was asked to give an honest review. I received no other compensation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Fighting words---from our country’s Declaration of Independence. It’s very easy to forget the circumstances leading up to it, especially if, like me, you have a weak background in American history. The preface of America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty is well-worth reading. It gives a succinct explanation of some of the background behind these United States including the events and circumstances leading up to the Declaration of Independence, as well as the attitudes and knowledge-base of the men who were willing to fight that fight. Liberty was (and still should be) an unalienable right of all. Have we forgotten what it means to be free? Have we lost our will to fight for our rights? The aim of this curriculum is to instill a sense of civic pride in our youth and encourage a return to those founding principles.

The American Heritage Education Foundation has made this curriculum available for free to all educators in the United States, including homeschoolers. It is available either as a download or you can request it be shipped to you on cd (I received the cd). The cd contains the entire curriculum in three different levels: elementary, middle school, and high school. It also includes a Spanish elementary version. The cd is very easy to use, you just pop it in and a menu will load. Clicking on the version you desire will open it in pdf form. As all my kiddos are elementary age, I have only really looked at the elementary version.

The elementary version consists of 168 pages and is divided into a preface and 15 lessons centering on the themes of freedom, progress, unity, and responsibility. Each lesson contains well defined objectives, core knowledge standards (complete with all the educational jargon you could wish for). Lessons consist of suggested activities and all necessary material is provided. A few examples of activities:

  • write a poem about “What is an American?”
  • the Monarchy Game
  • a radio play
  • Presidential finger puppets

Some of these activities were obviously very well thought out and a lot of effort went into preparing the materials to make them easy to reproduce in the classroom. The Monarchy Game comes to mind. The trouble is, it won’t work in a homeschool. A co-op, certainly, with enough students participating. A number of the activities are designed for large groups of students and are not easily modified so a home educator can use them. Some of the other activities are what I would call “throw aways,” but that may just be my personal taste. I have a dislike for assignments that give some kind of a formula for writing a “poem,” for example. I’m not big on word searches, either, but I suppose they have their place (spelling and word recognition, perhaps). There is still a fair amount of usable material here with all the research done for you and you certainly can’t beat the price: FREE.

America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty is available as:

  • a download (each level downloads separately)
  • on cd, shipped for free
  • printed in a binder, $19.50 per level
  • donations are welcome

Note: If you visit their site, music will play automatically on the curriculum page, so turn off your speakers if you have a sleeping child in your lap.

To read reviews of this product by other homeschoolers, visit:

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